The British Standards Institution (BSI) have released the first draft of the new British Standard for Web Accessibility – BS 8878 – for public consultation until 1st Feb 2009.
BS 8878 will suggest a practical process for ensuring that the private and public sectors successfully produce digital design that is inclusive of as many of the user population as possible. While disabled people are intended to be the key beneficiaries of the new approach, people whose first language is not English and everyone who reads web content over a mobile device stand to benefit from an approach that encourages the development of ‘accessible user experiences’.
Building upon the Publicly Available Specification “Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites” (PAS78), the new British Standard will address the business case for accessibility, explaining the relevance of the Disability Discrimination Act and looking at how organisations should attain accessibility by allocating appropriate resources and choosing technologies and developers wisely.
It also talks about the user’s enjoyment of a website – taking the idea of accessibility to a new level. Julie Howell, chair of the committee which has developed the standard, said:
“Access, use and enjoy are the three terms we use,” […] “Access is about the ability to reach the content; usability is about the ability to complete a task; and enjoyment is about having an enjoyable user experience and wanting to go back to that site. In the past we thought very functionally about what disabled users wanted.”
Out-law.com states that the final version is expected by Summer 2009. Once I’ve digested the 46-page document I’ll post my thoughts here (as well as submitting them to BSI, who emphasise that all comments will contribute to the development of BS 8878, helping to shape the standard).